(Bloomberg) — Nigeria’s military failed to protect civilians despite being warned of impending Islamist attacks on two northeastern towns where hundreds died this month, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
Boko Haram militants warned residents of Baga “almost two months ago” that they would come there to attack troops and local militias before their Jan. 3 raid on the town, the London-based group said in a statement, citing an unidentified military official. Boko Haram told locals the next target would be Monguno and the military was informed, Amnesty said. Boko Haram captured Monguno, 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Baga, on Sunday, according to militia member Hassan Ibrahim.
“It is clear from this evidence that Nigeria’s military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram,” Netsanet Belay, Amnesty’s Africa director, said in the statement. “These attacks are an urgent wake-up call for the Nigerian leadership, the African Union and the international community.”
Boko Haram has escalated its violent campaign to impose Shariah, or Islamic rule, in Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, killing more than 4,700 people last year, double the amount in 2013, risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft estimates. As it attacked Monguno on Sunday, it also made a failed attempt to take Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.